Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Making BP Pay, Kicking The Habit, and Future Predictions

President Obama says he's going to make BP pay.  Pay for everything.

I'm going to take him at his word for this.  Seems like a reasonable outcome, politically speaking.

Let's consider the tobacco settlement as a good precedent.  Tobacco products had done, and continue to cause, irreparable damage to state finances through medicare and other costs.  In addition, every state in the Union depends on significant cigarette tax to fund god-knows-what programs.  (I love designated funding.  Sure, we don't like gambling, but the gambling benefits the children!) 

The end result: State and local governments depend as much on tobacco sales in the US (if not more) to fund their entitlement programs than the actual manufacturers of tobacco products depend on them for their profits.  Let's face it, state fiscal crises hit faster and harder without tobacco manufacturing and sales in the US.  As taxpayers, we cannot afford to kick the habit.

At some point, in the not-so-distant future, all BP efforts to produce oil from the gulf will focus exclusively on funding programs in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.  (Let's hope not Georgia up to Maine, but maybe...)  At first, these will look like "good" works: cleaning pelicans, protecting turtle eggs, etc.

Not long after, this will involve special training programs to spouses of Tallahassee hot dog vendors who lost their jobs as a result of tourism dropped in Miami.  BP's new role as a key funding mechanism to state governments will ensure that the quantity of offshore drilling will rise, and the quality may even fall.  As taxpayers, we won't be able to kick the habit.

BP has died.  Long live BP!

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